A few years ago, I attended a workshop at the Coalition for Essential Schools conference that was called “Going Public,” focused on the importance of making the work of schools public. This school leader described her wandering into the world of writing quite by accident after a difficult incident put the school at the center of the town’s news. Next thing she knew, she had a weekly column in the newspaper where she made visible the daily work of school in meaningful ways. She encouraged those of us in attendance to help everyone -- parents, friends and the world -- understand what happens inside schools. I was inspired, and have been writing about my experiences in schools and education ever since.
For this reason, I welcome you to “Blue Notes from the Field.” Here, I will share daily goings on, both big and small, as well as some of my and our ongoing thoughts about Blue School's approach. I will be posting to this blog once every few weeks, or maybe more frequently as ideas pop up. I hope to add video, scan student work, and add photographs. I anticipate entries will be diverse, ranging from descriptions of small moments with children to wonderings and “ahas” about big ideas.
At the beginning of the summer, I attended the Institute for New Heads with the National Association of Independent Schools. With a small group at lunch, we began a great conversation about the definition -- and reclaiming -- of progressive education. For many, the phrase now conjures thoughts about wishy-washy projects and soft expectations, quite the opposite of the experiences the founding thinkers in this tradition (Vygotsky, Dewey, and others) intended. When realized effectively, this model of education requires deep, rigorous, and sustained thinking, excellent communication skills, and a honed work ethic.
I have uploaded a piece that demonstrates clearly the relationship between authentic, meaningful project work and intellectual rigor. Ron Berger is one of my all time favorite educational writers, and if you have some time, I’d recommend his book, Ethic of Excellence. It’s a quick read, and a truly inspiring and beautiful one at that. This article, called "A Culture of Quality," is in some ways an introduction to his ideas, but will nonetheless illustrate the marriage of rigorous thinking and a child-centered approach.